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March 1st, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Health care – Prescription for waste: $1000 toothbrush

Editor's Note: All this week, in the American Morning original series "Health care – Prescription for waste," we're examining more waste in the health care system – and this time it could involve your money. Today, a medical billing advocate shows our Elizabeth Cohen some of the wasteful charges she's seen in bills. And tomorrow on American Morning, we go shopping for health care to show you how you can save hundreds when it comes to your own medical bills.

(CNN) – Imagine someone spending a thousand bucks for a toothbrush. It might be amusing – if it wasn't your money. Consider this: for every dollar we spend on health care, fifty cents is wasted.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen shows us just how expensive some medical accessories can be and whether you’re getting slammed with bogus bills.

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Krista

    Hospitals charge ridiculous amounts to make up for the services they provide for those who are unable to pay. I don't say the 'uninsured' here, I say those unable to pay. Unfortunately those who are uninsured, but who don't want to ruin their credit get the worst deal.. since they get charged much higher prices than insurance companies are charged.

    Personally I think that the government should subsidize the education of doctors. There should be stringent tests in order to get the schooling, but if they're good enough they should be helped 100% to get their education and their degrees. In the long run this will reduce costs, increase the number of doctors, and make certain that our doctors are the best of the best.

    In order to get this 'free' education, however, the amount that doctors, clinics and hospitals would be allowed to charge for procedures would be strictly controlled.

    March 3, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  2. CSHC

    I'm in healthcare finance. There are a number of things people should realize here:

    – What a hospital "charges" on its bill has nothing to do with what the hospital actually gets paid, or what the hospital actually spends to acquire supplies.

    – Your insurance company (Blue Cross, Medicare, etc.) has a contracted rate established with the hospital for your procedure. Doesn't matter if the toothbrush charge is $1000 or $1, your insurance company will always pay that hospital $8,000 for an appendectomy (making up the numbers to illustrate a point).

    – If you want to see if hospitals are actually wasting money, look to see if it breaks even or not. If it does, then look at its staffing levels vs solucient benchmarks. If those are in line, then there's no waste at the hospital.

    March 3, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  3. BarBara-Illinois

    Dr J- you brought up some very significant topics about costs in healthcare. You stated that 50% of what hospital charges are administrative cost. I think you are right on target. However, what can we do about it? Cross training is a remarkable tool to lesson the cost of hospital and clinic charges. Observe if you will, employees standing around. Do we really need all of them? I am not talking about nurses or physicians but the rest of the staff. It appears that some of the other ancillary service employees are not cross trained and so you have one or two employees that can do a certain procedure so the departments have to have staff on duty to cover basically each service.
    I am also a true believer that every supervisor of a department should be able to do each one of their employees work.
    Most hospitals don't think about asking the non-adminastrative employees how they can reduce patient costs, improve customer service, improve patient and employee satisfaction scores, internal auditing, etc.

    March 3, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  4. Filbert Flubottom

    This is reminiscent of the ill winds scancal circa 1989 with Unisys and the US government...RE: $900.00 hammers, etc.

    Have the prosecutions have begun on this yet?

    Will the government be forcing all hospitals to take ethics courses on "ethical" billing practices from now on?

    March 3, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  5. Dr. J

    I see a lot of good comments here. People complain about expensive tylenol and high costs of Doctors fees. There is so much waste out there but people don't recognize that it also costs significant amounts of money to run a hospital. People don't factor in the Supply workers who deliver the drugs to the supply room, or the pharmacist who ensures you are getting the exact medication you need, or the environmental services person who cleans your room to ensure you don't get a hospital acquired infection, to the admitting clerk who ensures you are the person you say you are, or the upkeep of the millions of dollars of equipment in the hospital, or the taxes on the property, or the earthquake renovations that need to be completed, or the regulatory standards brought by the Joint Commission. These costs are huge, and if you think by charging only 10 cents for tylenol will pay for a hospital's upkeep, you are clearly misguided. Healthcare costs are way too high, but factor in that approximately 50% of medical costs DO NOT go to patient care, they go to administrative costs. How does that make you feel? And really, how much do you value your health? $5, or $10? Is that too much for the 30 minutes you spend with a doctor who takes care of your morbid obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, your stump from your amputation, your stroke, and your major depression because you decided not to take care of yourself for all of these years and now want someone to fix you with a pill?

    March 3, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  6. Rohan

    I read a lot of these comments, a lot of which referred to these exorbitant charges as 'waste'. Perhaps it's political correctness or a fear of being accused of slander, but let's says it like it really is, shall we?

    'People of the United States, your medical system is RIPPING YOU OFF!'

    March 3, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  7. Daryle

    I work in the Health Care Industry. Waste, greed and corruption are rampant in almost every aspect of the service. That's the way it is because that's what we accept. It is time to reign in this greed and make all hospitals fully accountable for this waste in out society. We suffer, pay huge bills and watch the hospital and medical supply companies pay enormous salaries to those who could care less about those they are there to assist. All they want is the money.
    It needs to stop now.

    March 3, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  8. andrew

    as long as people are spending others money I.E insurance,medicare, medicaid, taxpayer dollars one does not care about the cost since it is not comming from his or her wallet. Why would you want to change? and if you dont pay taxes your just paid for... I think health saving accounts are a big part of the answer

    March 3, 2010 at 7:08 am |
  9. John

    These prices are, unfortunately, the industry standard. I've been in the hospital as well and saw the same $10 Tylenol and other jaw-dropping prices. The insurance company is unconcerned because they go by profit percentage. If they get a 10% profit, the higher the bills are, the higher their income is.
    The conservatives can whine about what they call the "government takeover of health care", but if you have no health care, the argument is immaterial. Every other developed nation has a national health care policy of some kind and we do not. Our health spending per capita is twice what any other nation spends, and we are about #50 in life expectancy. In France, everyone is covered, and the cost is half of ours. So what are the Republicans pushing for? To keep the costs as high as possible.
    The fundamental difference, setting aside all the fine details of the legislation, is that the Democrats see health care as a basic right, and the Republicans see it as just another commodity in the market alongside widgets. If I get arrested, I have a basic right to an attorney, but if I get sick I'm on my own.
    They concentrate their efforts for me to have the right to walk around public venues, churches and campuses packing a sidearm ("celebrating my 2nd amendment rights"). On the other hand, they will happily mock the plight of the uninsured as Limbaugh does in every show.
    Bring in the public option. If government is so inefficient and private industry is so competitive, the public option will sink out of sight. However, the insurance industry is afraid that once the government will have some leverage on health care costs, they will be pinched financially.

    March 3, 2010 at 6:55 am |
  10. Katherine

    And THANK YOU, Nurse Tina!!!!

    March 3, 2010 at 6:34 am |
  11. Katherine

    BRAVO, Dr. A!!!!!

    March 3, 2010 at 6:32 am |
  12. Katherine

    Kevin, "WHO" needs a wage cut???
    You imply that this money is going to doctors.
    I am a doctor. I studied14 years (and I'm talking 80 to 100 hour weeks)
    BEYOND high school.
    I am 57 years old. I own one home with a $300,000 mortgage; I have
    $350,000 in my retirement. I am in private practice and work at least
    70 hours per week (yes, half those hours are to fill out paperwork for
    insurance companies - and I am not paid a penny for my time). I also
    am "on call" 24/7 one week out of 4.
    My net income is around $65,000 - about the same as an experienced
    school teacher, with some years of experience. I, however, have
    no sick time, no vacation time, no paid holidays. And I've lost
    my health insurance twice, because of my daughter's "pre-existing"
    medication problems.

    Folks, figure out with WHOM you are angry.
    I doubt it's your family doc, or Internist, or Pediatrician, or Psychiatrist -
    i.e., the people who actually "take care" of you.

    Look at: INSURANCE COMPANIES;
    PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES;
    HOSPITAL CHAINS;
    MALPRACTICE LAWYER; and
    yes, there are some DOCS in highly renumerative specialities
    (but you never SEE them: Radiology, Pathology).

    The docs out there taking care of you - even highly paid surgeons -
    are mostly not getting rich from our work. We do it, because we
    genuinely care.

    March 3, 2010 at 6:28 am |
  13. C Anderson

    No offense but this has been going on for decades. Almost anyone who has gone to a hospital or needed care has seen this if they looked at a hospital bill. I've had my insurance refuse to pay for over-billing by hospitals and who does the bill get kicked back to, me. Why is it that this has been going on for so long and why is it that this continues? I don't know the answer and I don't care. My wife went through treatment for breast cancer. The hospitals would charge every time they tried to put an IV in and missed a vein, that's absurd. Why do I think this happens? Because there is no regulation and these places can do as they please without anyone stepping in and telling them they can't. These places get to police themselves and they get a thumbs up. The system is corrupt and it's been imploding for years and it kills me that this is supposed to be news. I was misdiagnosed for an appendicitis a few years back and basically walked around for almost a year with it. I went back to the same doctor and the same ER and they kept bumping up pain medications then blamed my pain on the medications. Luckily one doctor admitted me and did exploratory surgery. I was on so many pain meds that I woke up under anesthesia. Now I have to live with the fact that I was addicted to pain medications and still am. I have two hernias in my abdominal cavity and lots of scar tissue is really painful. My insurance company has tried to refuse covering my medications and actually got away with one medication that was helping me detox. Who holds them accountable for this? If the government can step in to regulate the airlines why don't they step in they can do it to the health care system. I'm also sick of people who complain that if this happens, it's some form of socialism. Our republic is probably one of the greatest experiments in one type of socialism and has been from the start.

    March 3, 2010 at 5:39 am |
  14. PJ

    Well....no surprises here, eh? Money for nothin' and the health-care's Not Free. Who Knew? Please don't forget about the drug companies and $100/pill after lobbying to take Tryptophan off the market via the FDA...and don't mind the nose bleeds or dead liver and kidneys...they can fix those now too, with other drugs and a $200k transplant.

    A thought...What if no one paid their premiums for Health Care for six months and if you get sick or injured just go to the local Emergency room? They have to take you. It may attract some attention among other things. @¿@

    Its our country people, what do WE the People want to Do? Its not all in the Headlines...it starts with US.

    Thanks for doing the reporting here. Nice to see some Light shown on it. Lets all turn on our head lights, Eh?

    March 3, 2010 at 3:40 am |
  15. Alphahawk

    There is so much sensationalism going on here in this forum. Sure there is waste but these doctors are not making the money ninety percent of you think they are. And to the idiot that thinks all doctors make 500 thousand a year...you better get out more.

    March 3, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  16. bob searcy

    the indy va hospital is a govt model for medicine. if youve never been treated there, im sorry for you. obama said effeciency in medicine would make it affordable. hes a visionary and a genius. you would just have to experience effeciency in medicine to understand. to all you self-serving repukelicans, the world does not belong to you. it belongs to the meek, sickos..

    March 2, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  17. adam

    WHAT HOSPITALS, what kind of reporting is this, go back to 101 journalism

    March 2, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  18. Ron

    People, this is real simple to help solve.
    When you go to a hospital for either an emergency or a longer stay for treatment, upon leaving, ask for AN ITEMIZED BILL.
    Any charges you feel to be unjust, call the billing department, tell them you are calling your insurance company to tell them not to pay certain charges until they are reduced to a nominal charge.
    The insurance company should not pay any charges you specifically tell them not to pay.
    And while you're at it, send the copy along with a letter to your state and Federal insurance commissioner for fun.

    March 2, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  19. Andrew

    I've been billed $10 for a Tylenol I didn't even take.

    Our health care is expensive not because of illegal immigrants; let's get that straight. Places in the U.S. that have very few illegal immigrants also have sky high costs. So we need to put that myth to rest. The more people who are uninsured in general the more health care with cost because people without health insurance wait until they are very sick to seek treatment (which, in the end, is more expensive). Plus, costs are contained with a system that has more government control (so to all those anti-socialism people out there...the evidence in other countries speaks for itself).

    March 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
  20. Tina Jamesoner, RN

    As a nurse, I can tell you that its not the doctors at fault here, but, sadly the nurses. A hospital cannot run without doctors and if wages are cut we will face a shortage of doctors as it is. Doctors go through 8 years of school of 4+ years of brutal residency training. If you are going to be mad, get mad at the execs and CEO's who get millions of dollars in bonuses from our taxpayer money. Doctors get nice salaries, but they don't get in the millions like some of the corrupt CEO's. Those bastards don't get a fraction of the training our doctors do. I love the doctors I work with. As a nurse, I see a lot of other nurses I work with screw up the billing codes and itemize wrong things on patients bills. The docs have nothing to do with it. If you keep pinpointing the docs instead of the overpaid politicians and CEO's, then one day our doctors will go on strike and our nation will be SCREWED....in fact, the American Medical Association is already getting signatures from doctors for a strike.... I see their point because a lot of the doctors I work with tell me that they work 80-100 hours a week, and are expected to get paid peanuts when they have 250K in loans to pay from medical school. When people blame our doctors, I feel sorry for them because as a nurse I get to work with them and for them. Sometimes I hope the American Medical Association does pose a strike and a majority of our doctors participate in the strike. Then maybe people wouldn't take doctors for granted. Imagine what would happen if this strike lasted a day, or even an hour????

    March 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
  21. Todd USAF Ret.

    In '06 I had a shoulder repaired . After the surgery and 3 months of rehab I recieved a breakdown of the bill and noticed they had me down as having a cool pack (it pumps cold air via a hose to the area of repair) for 3 months and were charging me a rental fee. Seeing this I went to the base and told them of the error. The military has an employee that works to ensure they are not getting ripped off from other agencies like this. I went and talked to a man and gave him the full deal on what had happened. Last heard he was going to ensure they didnt pay.

    March 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  22. Jeanette

    I have a blood test done every month. Your hospital is classified as a Rural Hospital. My test cost $61.10. Medicare pays $120.00 and then it is sent to my co-pay. which they pay $12.22. Total of $132. for a $61. charge. Medicare has a contract with the hospital.

    March 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  23. BarBara Burton-Illinois

    A response to Gene Kohlmeier. You are right that your rights were violated. If you haven't done so, you need to demand that that procedure AND the diagnosis for that procedure be removed from your medical record. If they refuse then you need to put a formal statement from you about this procedure and demand it be included in your medical record. If it not removed it will part of your permanent medical record and the diagnosis will be with you for the rest of your life! If you ever apply for new health insurance, life insurance, even a job, this information will be available to them and you could be denied insurance or have services denied for "pre-existing conditions." I would attend the next hospital board meeting and report this to them. Don't call for permission to go to the meeting. Just show up and have your paper work with you. I would also report this to your Attorney General's office and your state's Department of Insurance. Be sure to follow through on this because it will be in your permanent medical record.

    March 2, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  24. BarBara Burton-Illinois

    This is for Scottand then A.
    as a retired hospita lbusiness office manager who monitored charge entry as ell cash posting I'd like to respond to your comments. There is absolutely no incentive for business office staff charge in error. Errors are created when staff get careless. However, there need to be internal audits in place to catch these errors. It is not just the business office staff that enter charges on the patient bill. Every department in a hospital now enters their own charges. There definitely needs to be a place to report billing errors that goes into a specific database that monitors negligent billing practices. However, that said, patients have to be aware and I know when you are sick you shouln't have to worry about your hospital/clinic bills. But you review your credit card bills, right? Its the same priniciple. I realize that a lot of patients find their bills confusing and some are indeed very hard to read. It IS the job of the business office staff to help patients understand their billing issues and concern. Audits can be done to match the billing to the medical record to see if the items or procedures billed really given or performed.
    Dr. A – I agree that it is extremely expensive to maintain a medical practice. Illinois has one of the the very highest malpractice insurance rates of all states.
    I helped two physicians set up their practices. Neither one stopped practicing because they weren't getting paid. They had very successful practices and still do. I understand that you had medical school expenses but I don't think I should have to pay for your education. Yes, I want you to be a finely skilled physician and if you received additional training as a "specialist" I would expect to pay more because you are supposed to be "higly skilled".
    I live in a small town in southern illinois that has a population of 5000. Our entire county has a population of 16,000. Physicians don't want to come here because they can get paid more in larger cities. However, when physicians come to small towns like ours and open a practice, we pay their practice set-up expense, we pay off their student loans if they agree to stay in our county for 5-10 years. Once that 5-10 years is over, they leave. Small town America suffers tragically because physicians want the money.
    One more thing. About that $1000 toothbrush. I do not believe that the hospital that billed the patient for that toothbrush entered the charge correctly and was, of course done in error. However, shame on the hospital for not catching the error. They should be reported and could be sanctioned if there are other billing errors.
    The Attorney General's office is a good place to start.

    March 2, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  25. Crystal

    That is so unfair for hospitals to overprice ridiculous items like a cotton pad.

    March 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  26. KevinC

    We should just do pay our bills this way. Next time I get a hospital bill, I'm going to divide the amount by 8 and send them that many diapers. I figure, if that's what they are going to charge me for a diaper, I should be able to pay in that amount.

    March 2, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  27. afw

    Tyler has the most intelligent comment in this entire thread.

    March 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  28. John

    Dr. A, and achit are right on the money. Don't cut the docs pay, my life is worth more than a few thousand dollars and to be honest what they get paid is pretty fair considering what a hedge fund mgr would make even if the fund lost millions of dollars. Achit is right the hospital profit margin is very low, BECAUSE of the uninsured/illegal care they are forced to provide. Again prices are inflated to cover the ones who abuse/can't pay for care.

    Healthcare costs will continue to be outrageous until we:
    * Get drug companies/suppliers under control price wise
    * Get control over the medical rights of illegals
    * Put a common sense limit on malpractice suits, doctors are often unfairly sued for things they couldn't of possible prevented/detected.

    March 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  29. nancy in southern Calif

    I'll bring by own $2.59 oral b the next time I'm in the hospital!

    March 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  30. José

    Just another example (in case you missed the past 12 years) of the failure of conservative policies. They preach responsibility, but when it is Painfully obvious that everything is being dumped on the little guy, the conservative cry class-war. Meanwhile, people are dying because of lack of the basic health care. The USA NEEDS to be half-n-half -half socialist programs, and half conservative watchdog. They should compliment each other, not try to undercut one another and screw each other out of basic needs. Of course, I haven't seen anything that the liberals have done to undercut conservatives... so in my humble marxist communist liberal leftist leninist stalinist maoist taoist collectivist opinion – Vote OUT ALL OBSTRUCTIONIST! NO MORE PARTY OF NO! Play Ball or Get The Boot!

    March 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  31. Joe888

    Yes, I agree that our health care system is rife with waste and changes must be made. But at the same time, I do sympathize with them. Being a civilized world that we lived in, a hospital cannot, by law, turn away anyone that needs medical help. That includes the uninsured, the under insured, and the ones that are better of dead. When a gangbanger get shot and requires $500k operation, who do you think pays for it? When a death row inmate requires $2M in cancer treatment, who do you think pays for it? The hospitals need to billed the people who can pay for it to make up for the ones that can't. The only way that would change is if the hospitals are allowed to turn away people that can't or refuses to pay.

    March 2, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  32. Tony D

    Hospitals play the numbers game they know medicare only pays so much for certain things that is why they charge so much for their services they charge a lot and take what ever medicare gives them then they dun you to death with bills for the rest of your life for the balance they figure someone will pay them its all a numbers game the whole system sucks..yes we have good doctors and good facilities but unless you have some help it is virtualy impossible to obtain these services unless you have some kind of insurance...But alas the GOP or Tea Baggers do not see anything wrong with this...maby its because they have good providers
    like say Mega corporations...

    March 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  33. John

    If we keep on paying doctors more than $500,000 a year, nurses more than $100,000 a year and other health care professionals through the roof .....this $1000 toothbrush charges will never reduce.....rather increase exponentially with time.
    All of it, when general Americans either do not have a job or have just enough to survive.....main street always pays when Wall Street gets greedy

    March 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  34. tyler

    this shows us to bring our own toothbrush.

    March 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  35. JDQ

    It should be obvious by now that business will bilk the system, no matter the business or the system. Look at the proliferation of contracting out of the military and the cost of toilet seats in planes. Look at the cost of contracting out of all aspects of purchasing, services, etc. The medical industry is just another example of greed in action. If there is profit to be made, they will make it, and until enough people make enough noise, it will continue unabated.

    March 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  36. Jorge

    On the subject of illegal immigrants getting a free ride and making all the rest of us pay. How about we charge the people who coax them to come here to disorient our labor force? These companies hire illegals so that they don't have to pay legitimate wages to American workers. They profit by the illegals work, so have them pay for the extra costs of bringing them health care with whatever they're saving by not hiring an American Citizen. Or is that taxing the rich again? Bunch of cry babies.

    March 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  37. Madison

    Patrick Skinner, are you really saying that the hospitals shouldn't be able to charge more than 80% of their costs? Or am I reading that wrong?

    You said that the "Federal Gov't pays them 80% of their cost and they bill private pay and insurers 150% of their cost to make up the difference and turn a profit. Every insured family in America would see their premiums decrease by $150/month if Obama would sign a bill announcing providers could not charge anyone more than the gov't pays."

    How is a hospital supposed to make any sort of profit if they are losing 20% on every transaction? How many hospitals will be remain open with that business model?

    March 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  38. jim

    No person is perfect and mistakes do happen. However, when laws require hospitals to care for all pesons, even those who elect not to have coverage, they incur expenses. Simple math. The hospital, in order to remain solvent, must obtain revenue to cover its costs. Thus, the $1,000 toothbrush.

    A responsible report would have provdided FACTS on both sides of the equation and then let the readers decide.

    Shock journalism – might as well be the National Enquirer. No wait. The N.E. actually won an award for breaking the Edwards story.

    Keep trying.

    March 2, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  39. Rob

    How about we pass a new federal law that applies to all hospitals in all states, screw up on a medical bill and YOU pay the difference! No, wait a minute, that would solve the problem and the US government never solves problems!

    March 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  40. ToddinUpstateNY

    I wonder if I can start paying my monthly premiums in toothbrushes – I will even round up to the nearest full case. I would save them a fortune over the existing supplier.

    I wonder how dentists can give out free toothbrushes and charge what they charge..

    March 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  41. Jen

    I'll always love the time I went to the ER because I was having an asthma attack. Never had one before, it had always been a controlled illness.

    None the less, there I was. As I sat there dizzy, wheezing filling out paperwork!!! They asked for the copay, I paid. $100.

    Fast forward three days later I get a bill for the visit for my copay!! I call them up and they confirm I paid.

    Next day I get another bill. Same date of visit, same time, different invoice number...I call and they admit that there must be something screwy but tell me I have to pay it and then they will look into it and reimburse me when they correct the error!

    Ha ha ha. Yeah right. I told them no way and I had proof of my visit and payment, and don't you know the next day I received a call from a collection person for that invoice. They later determined that it was in fact an error, but what nerve to tell me to pay it first and they would reimburse me later when they had corrected their mistake!

    March 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  42. achit

    profit margins for insurance and hospitals are 3.3% and 3.6%.
    Soda mfg. 5.6%
    Beer companies: 25.6%

    You are being fleeced more by your soda and beer cans!!!
    Dr. A. great comment. All the people for health care reform don;t give a s**t for reform. they just don;t want to pay for their health care.

    March 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  43. Michael Murphy

    Go to Facebook and join the group:
    Hey Congress It's the Healthcare Industry
    We are all sick of exorbitant hospital bills making our health insurance rates sky-rocket!

    March 2, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  44. achit

    wow....CNN did not publish my comments again...
    why?
    I know cause I'm against health care reform!!!
    CNN is Obama News network

    March 2, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  45. Greg

    Doctors always say that hospitals are loosing money but they sold a group of hospitals for 10 billion pocketing millions each. The biggest reason for healthcare's soaring costs –> greedy doctors.

    March 2, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  46. Bill

    Yet another reason why we NEED reform.

    March 2, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  47. vabs

    my husband is a medicaid patient, who underwent a surgical procedure 2 years ago that required oxygen and forced air via a trach for 4 weeks at home. When this was no longer needed, I contacted the service providing this, and they came and retrieved the big 'box' of a machine that compresses the oxygen to aid in breathing. 9 months later, I received a phone call asking if we needed more oxygen. They were still billing medicaid for the rent of that machine and monthly oxygen tank supplies...I requested they correct this back to the date...doubt if it has happened.

    March 2, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  48. Heather

    It's really sad how much money is wasted, not only with healthcare but also with food stamps with medicare with some much other benefits that many people abuse. So many people live free and taxpayers are paying more & more taxes. Something is not right. Thank you for this special to show how so much of are money is going down the drain.

    March 2, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  49. FTK

    Shane in Ohio said...There's no place for Socialism in this country.

    Great....dont enroll your childern into Public School....dont ever apply for UI benifits should you lose your job.....dont ever use the USPS..end welfare and dont ever use the public libary to learn what Socialism actually means!

    March 2, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  50. Lynda

    Several years ago I went to the emergency room with minor chest pains. I took at very bumpy ride to the hospital and then laid in a bed in the hallway for about an hour before I was able to get a spot in a room. Blood samples were taken and about 2 hours later I saw the emergency room doctor. He spent approximately 30 to 50 seconds with me. He asked me questions that involved "yes" or "no" answers and would not let me get another word in! He told me that women my age don't have heart problems. He said he looked at my blood test results. I am assuming he did. Anyway I was there for about 4 hours in all and was charged over $4,000. The emergency room doctor charge me almost $500 for that 50 seconds. Only two other people saw me and they were paid several hundred each. All I used was a bed, about a 8 foot by 10 foot space, heart monitor, and a couple needles and tubes for $4,000. Then when I went in for follow-up at my doctors the doctor charged my insurance company $250 for some kind of club fee? The copay for the visit was I believe $30. It was crazy. My first time in an emergency room and hopefully my last.

    March 2, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  51. Linda Burton

    Well, I am a physician who lived in N.M. and many friends would go to Juarez for treatments since it was "cheaper". Then when things went wrong ( and they did frequently) they went back to health care in the USA.

    Yes, Juarez is cheaper......but......

    March 2, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  52. Don

    Instead of including other costs in the prices of these items they should just charge the fair amount and then, at the bottom, include a seperate line item: "Amount You are Paying to Support Other People". This way when you dispute your bill you can actually identify the welfare portion!

    March 2, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  53. Lester Bingington

    Hospitals have to treat everyone, even if they can't pay. That is why these little items cost so much because the hospitals have already given out over 995 toothbrushes for free, so they need to charge extra to the people who can pay.

    March 2, 2010 at 2:48 am |
  54. scott

    Hospitals and clinics are in business to make money. Basic business principles say charge as much as you can for your product/ service. If Hospitals/ clinics did not have to cover uninsured they would still charge the maximum amount each individual/ insurance company would pay for each visit. Unless there is a penalty for overbilling and billing for services and products not provided these fat cats in the business departments of hospitals and clinics have no incentive to stop this fraud.

    March 2, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  55. Alejandro

    I take my kid to a hospital in NJ, actually the JFK. My kid had fever about 103, and they administered ibuprofene. They send a bill with a charge for a uretral device, can you believe that?? If that it's not fraud, what is it? Best health care in the world??? sure the ranking is 40th, so there is best health care in the world, except here, even in Brazil, a 3rd world country has a better healt care system, what's wrong wit you people? being robbed by mafias? In my opinion, health care should be private but with government option to low income, everybody pays, if you can't, use low income option. No big plans for CEOs and standard procedures for well known diseases. Bad doctors practice? jail, like every other developed country.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  56. Joel Alan Decker

    yes this is the big truble with helth care please keep this in the news and keep it up u are doing a good job......

    March 1, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  57. Dr. A

    To Kevin (7th from the top), who says doctors should be salaried and have wages cut:
    1) You can pay our excessive medical school debt ($100k +)
    2) You can pay my living expenses during my four-year residency where I work 36 hours shifts, 100+ hours a week, and take about about $30k/year for that hard work.
    3) You can pay the mortgage and utilitiy bills on my office, the salaries of all my staff, my malpractice insurance.
    4) You buy me all the computers that I'm being forced to use
    5) You can subsidize the $1million worth of vaccines that I have to inventory. I earn virtually nothing on those, and often take a loss. And please don't let the power go out for too long, because then my vaccines are ruined.
    6) You can spend 2 hours at the end of each day filling out forms and fighting with insurance companies so patients can receive the medicines, tests, and referrals that they need (no, we don't get paid for any of that time).

    Yup, you take care of all those things. I'll show up to work each morning as I already do, spend 15-30 minutes minimally with each of my patients. I'll help them make the tough decisions. I'll get called at 3 in the morning for the guy who was "too busy" to come see me for his sinus infection during normal office hours. I'll continue providing charity care for my most loyal patients when they face hardships (doctor's have always done this, and even in these hard times, we still do).

    Kevin: You clearly don't appreciate the value of good healthcare. This isn't about $1000 toothbrushes. It's about losing good doctors to a system that doesn't reward QUALITY care. You can probably find a doctor willing to work for your lower wages. But he's going to spend less than 5 minutes with you and probably won't speak English very well. You'll get no explanations, no couneling, no choices, and you'll be lucky if you even wind up with appropriate therapy.

    Good luck Kevin.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  58. Karen

    You are forgetting an important reason why hospitals charge so much for such small items. The uninsured patients! They are the main reason why that toothbrush costs $1000. Hospitals have costs just like everyone else except that they are expected to treat everyone who requests treatment regardless of whether or not they can pay. Illegals have driven up the cost of healthcare. Take a look at your history, healthcare began to increase with the influx of illegals in this country.
    On a side note, neither healthcare bill covers dental or vision and women get a raw deal. READ THE BILLS! and then make up your own mind about whether or not you want to pay for it.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  59. mark

    The hospitals pay for all illegal aliens Emergency Room medical bills Since they don't pay for medical services the legal Americans bills are inflated so that the hospitals can get back some of the money they spend on ILLEGAL ALIENS. Want to put a big dent in health care dollars? Stop giving illegal aliens a free ride in the ER. And stop them from getting a free ride period.

    March 1, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  60. Chris

    Would you go to a restaurant that had no prices on the menu and billed you a month later? Now imagine your Diners Club card covered a big portion of the bill. Sure it's expensive to join diners Club, but once you do eating out is cheap! It's only a $10 copay. You pay your copay, you get your meal. Would you get a grilled cheese and a water? No, you'd get an appetizer, salad, steak and dessert washed down with a whiskey and Coke. When everyone does this, Diners Club gets more expensive, the price of steak goes way up, chefs are driving Porsche's and if you don't belong to Diners Club you just can't afford to eat out. And when people dine and ditch their cost gets added to your bill and costs soar. Soon it gets so out of hand the government has to get involved. But is the answer really to get everyone on Diners Club? Do you really think that is the answer??

    March 1, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  61. Lawrence

    Every item in the hospital has a scan code. They peal off the sticker put in on the patient's chart and scan it later into the billing system. I can understand charging for every little thing because everything adds up and someone has to pay for it. But one should expect a normal retail charge for the item. Twice the cost of the item is standard.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  62. BarBara Burton

    I understand that President Obama's Healthcare bill is the big topic and it is a long time coming. But lets forget polictics for now and address what we can do right now to reduce healthcare costs. Ask questions about your diagnosis, ask why your physician is ordering each test and what they are looking for. Learn to be an informed patient. Ask for an itemized statement and very carefully look at each charge. This is especially important for emergency room charges, admission charges and surgery charges. If something looks wrong ask why you are being charged for that item or service. Ask for a copy of your medical record. Its your healthcare record and you are entitled to view it and obtain a copy for every service you receive. Surgery bills are especially important to audit. If you find something, report it!
    Many states, Illinois is one of them that has a Hospital Uninsured Law that states gospitals have to give the uninsured patient a discount. Never be afraid to ask for discount and never be afraid to ask questions. Your also have the right to ask for a full audit of your charges.
    Become an informed patient and you'll be amazed at what you learn.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  63. Ryan

    I do not agree with most of the comments on this forum. People have to realize the cost of that toothbrush is to offset the cost of "x number" of patient seen in the ER and admitted to the hospital without insurance, that the hospital will never get compensation. This is actually a very large number of patients. The $1000 toothbrush also covers the ridiculosly low compensation MEDI-CAL pays for services administered in the hospital.
    Healthcare needs reform, however when healthcare is reformed to include all people, the toothbrush will go back to being $1.00, but your monthly insurance cost, or taxes, etc will be higher to manage the cost of all the uninsured.
    Nothing is for free, someone has to pay.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  64. Jeremy Portland Oregon

    Transparency and accountibility are terms that need to be addressed in the healthcare field (as well in government). I will never dismiss a hospital or doctor bill without completely reviewing what I (or my insurance co.) is paying for. One positive note is that sometimes legitimate errors are made, which can be caught and corrected. However, it is more difficult to identify charges made to an account if the statement is not itemized correctly or its just plain difficult to read and understand because of technical jargon. Hospital billing should be held more accountible and offer transparent and easy to understand billing statements. There should be more stringent rules that govern billing processes because it's not just the individual who is harmed, but it is the whole society. We must curb corruption as much as possible by putting in place standards that reflect ethical billing procedures. The hard working American people deserve better. I would hope that any healthcare reform would reflect our values of honesty, transparency and our mission of continually improving the many dynamic processes and structures in which we live.

    March 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  65. Myvryn

    This is what health-care reform should be about.... lower the cost of care so that insurance costs can be lowered. simply providing insurance for the un-insured is NOT going to solve the problem.

    March 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  66. Greg

    This is not unusual, it's the norm. I had my Appendix taken out two years ago. They charged me $239.00 for bandages that I could have bought at CVS for $5.00. I understand the cost of health care but to inflate the charges for gauze is what's wrong with our system.

    March 1, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  67. mrd

    Ive never ever once been in a hosptial.. received a bill that was not pattently absurd. Ive been charged 300$ for a bandage set to cover an IV .. haha.. the system is rife with waste.

    It is about time- it's time to stop this.. its time to rein it in and have something that resembles.. SANE.

    March 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  68. Jessica Abigail Murway

    I just got out of the hospital myself, having a hard time, and after being held up for a week I uncovered ALLOT of wrong doings within the system that I would very much like to share with you. In truth, unfortunately, many of it (and on more than one occasion) could have literally cost me my life. It’s truly scary and concerning when the people you TRUST your life with look at you as a mere number or dollar sign....it has become a truly scary world were people stop being PEOPLE & forget that we are HUMAN FIRST. Please put the money SECOND, money will follow, IF ( & ONLY IF) we all work together, however, with a declining dollar an end is far from sight. Ideally, money should always be second to the human life...unfortunately, we are at the present time very far from the IDEAL, however, getting there (or so it seems) with helping factions inside and those who believe stepping down DAY by DAY. Let’s just say America Truly is Broken...and I hope to help in any way I can (as we should all make this first priority above all else if we want an America for our kids to ultimately come home to). Kindly contact me if any of this sounds familiar or if you would like to hear my findings (of which I am still at the moment attempting to compile further as well as document from the outside in (or inside out if you will.) Please rest assured & trust I will not ramble on as Glen Beck, after all who has time when there’s just too much work to be done! May God Bless you all and the good, no, GREAT, you’re doing at DAY by DAY CNN...we as Americans as well as the WOLRD as a whole should be highly appreciative for the staff at CNN, all your amazing accomplishments and much needed assistance to a broken country, thus far. However, we all still have Hope (& Faith) ... Thanks again.
    –Jessica Abigail

    March 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  69. Jorge

    This is exactly the kind of hogwash that keeps us in our nation giddy in ignorance. This isn't merely overpricing, or waste or some kind of mistake or flaw in our healthcare system. Its downright Theft and that's what CNN should be reporting it as. If some kid whether he's White Black Latino or Asian goes and commits theft he will be prosecuted for his crime and possibly face a long time of parole. Yet when these thieving Insurance and healthcare officials perpetrate it, its just waste. The only waste I'm noticing is the waste in the brains of all the journalists who should know better and call this what it actually is.. a shakedown of the American public.

    March 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  70. John JOhnson

    When do we stop blame game? It's time that all Americans come together and stop the abuse from these insurance companines. Medicare is the problem? Our ongoing housing, medical and loss of jobs is simply caused by greed. Our founding fathers are rolling over in their graves.

    John

    March 1, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  71. Karen Addington

    Hospitals, etc have been charging outrageous prices for Tylenol / other items for years & years. Why is it now that CNN is finally highlighting / reporting the issue?

    March 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  72. Raj

    Two years back during my pregnancy (with twins) I had a routine ultra sound. The hospital charged 10K for the scan to my insurance company. As co-pay I had to pay $500.
    I went back to community hopsital for scanning. The other hospital used to charge about 200 bucks and I had to pay 30 buck as co-pay. The care I received at the community hospilat was far better as compared to the first hospital.
    Should we call the first hospital bill as exhorbitant/waste don't know.

    March 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  73. Nim

    It is just outrageous that hospitals charge those reidiculous fees, but believe me that's not an entry error, they deliverately charge insurances those amounts; a few years ago I was taken by my family to the emergency room at Wake Med Hospital in Raleigh, NC I waited for about 3 to 5 hours to be seen by an emergency doctor who spoke to me for about two minutes and a charge about $1000 appeared on my bill for that and the most bizarre was that they charged $1,500 for the IV needle they put on my arm even though no medications was ever given to me. When I asked the financial representative about that she said there was nothing I could do about it and those were standard fees. People should be aware that hospitals do overcharge health insurance companies, but they charged unisure patients up to 200% more for those same fees. How dare some people[ some rich republicans mostly ]say that there is not need for Healthcare Reform, educate yourself Healthcare Reform is not a socialist agenda is a mere basic human right and need for the working American people.

    March 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  74. Randy

    My mother was in intensive care for 3 days and was charged $85.00 for "lip balm".

    March 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  75. James

    "most of the politicians who are violently opposed to it, probably own stock in the very corporations that are fleecing the American public"

    No these companies line their pockets in a more direct way with huge campaign contributions. And now with the Supreme Court saying "companies have unlimited free speech. It will be even worse!

    March 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  76. James

    This is why Obamacare is the worst idea ever! They keep throwing out cost containment parts of the bill due to the strong lobbies. So at the end of the day it is a one Trillion dollar check to the doctors, hospitals, Insurance and drug companies.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  77. Laura

    Frankly, it doesn't really matter if the hospital charges $1000 or 10 cents for a tootbrush. Most inpatient hospitals stays are reimbursed by insurance at a negoitated rate for the stay which is dependent on the diagnosis and the procedures performed. An appendectomy for example might cost the insurance company $2500 while the actual bill might be $10,000. That's why the insurance co. doesn't care if something was billed incorrectly.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  78. Gene Kohlmeier

    I am currently challenging a Patomic Hospital (an its doctor) for a fraudlent charge for a procedure not done. The bill was mostly paid by the insurance company and I refused to pay the co-pay. The billing agency threatend to send the bill to collection. A Virginia health department said they don't get involved in billing disputes.

    My civil rights have been violated. The health card provider who entered the false procedure in my medical record commited a crime. It also appears to be a HIPPA violation to report the fraudlent procedure to a third person. It is also an inter-state crime and mail fraud. Now I need the FBI to investigate. Wish me luck! I want jail time for the offenders.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  79. illegals

    My wife recently delivered our son at a local hospital. The charges on the bill were ridiculous..$300 for aspirin, towel service charges, blanket charges....then we found out the real reason. A friend of ours works at the hospital in administration. The hospital serves almost 5,000 infant deliveries per year. Of that, over 4900 were from illegals that did not pay for the services provided.

    This is why health care costs are out of control.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  80. Nicole

    If insurance companies sent people bills they could understand, they may be surprised to see how many correspondences they get that the bills are incorrect. I can't tell you how many times I have been to a dentist that charged for X-Rays they didn't take or a lab charging for a test they didn't run. The bills patients receive in the mail are all in code and unless someone has hours to sit on the phone and get clarification, they will never know whether or not their insurance is being incorrectly billed. I think the annoying buzzword "tranparency" needs to be acted upon when it comes to our healthcare.

    March 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  81. Joey

    I am glad Elizabeth Cohen covered this story. it makes me angry and feel hopeless at the same time. what can we do to stop this? anyone?

    March 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  82. L.L.

    "Waste" Billing has been going on for years, but not to this extreme. I am a mother of 3 and we do not have medical insurance because it costs too much. Can't afford to work for health insurance. Luckily, our children are pretty healthy and we purchase our prescriptions at Walmart through their Generic program. As President Obama said..."Every American should have health insurance".

    March 1, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  83. Shane in Ohio

    Yes I agree whole heartedly that health care reform needs to happen yesterday, No reason for pills to cost $160/mo. None. No reason for stories like this.

    However....people....Socialism is NOT the way to reform it.

    The government DOES NOT magically have the answer just because it is "the government". There's no place for Socialism in this country.

    March 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  84. whocares

    Need to stick to the name of this bill HEALTH CARE reform

    I have ins and 2 years ago I stints put in my legs and was charged $38,000 for my 7 hours in the hospital of which 1 hour was in the operating room. my insurance picked that up but i was charged another $2000 by the doctor that my insurance didnt pay. I have no problem with the insurance companies its the freakin dr and hospitals charges. the ins companies need to start looking at these bills though and that will save them some money and maybe that can be passed on down to the consumer

    March 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  85. Tripodder

    Elizabeth, Why are you leaving us to wonder WHICH hospitals are charging $1,000 per toothbrush? Show us the evidence, site your source (besides Cindy), and name which hospital you are accusing. Or if there is a reason why you can't tell us who you are accusing, please tell us. Also how often do these examples happen... frequency of occurrence?
    You say, "that hospital wouldn't speak to us" at the end of the interview...or 'that insurance company", again why can't you be specific?

    March 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  86. Rob

    HealthCare and Insurance companies are are a legalized mafia.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  87. BarBara Burton

    I stand amazed that no one has spoken of the fraud and abuse in healthcare! I am a retired business office manager of a hospital and yes mistakes do happen and that is why everyone should ask for an itemized bill of their charges and they need to question, question, question the charges. The normal mode of charge entry used to be that the business office entered all charges on the patient bill. (Yes, their were still errors but that's why you have to have internal audits.) Now almost every hospital department enteres their own charges and more and more errors are made every day unless there are internal audits in place. Medicare and Medicaid used to come into hospitals and clinics, without prior notice, and do charge audits and of course, everytime, there were errors found. But it appears that it doesn't happen very much any more and that in and of itself, is a crime. The OIG could save our country billions of dollars but they apparently have cut costs and basically downsized the audit department. I have worked with the OIG on our hospital audits. They are very good at what they do. So why don't we use them more?
    The major insurance companies like Blue Cross, Aetna and Cigna used to ask for the medical chart of a patient to compare what the patient received and what they were charged. Yes errors were found but not as many. Every patient needs to now what they are being charged for. As a patient advocate, I realize there are a lot of people that don't know how to read their medical bill and I have helped a lot of people do just that. Remember to pay attention when you are hospitalized or receiving treatment in a outpatient setting. Keep a medical journal. Do not be intimidated by healthcare staff. It is their job to "prove-up" their charges.
    CNN, you need to keep this issue in the public!

    March 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  88. Kurt Hahn

    The billing amounts appearing on a typcal patients bill are infact a function of Federal (CMS) accounting standards and refect about 250% of actual cost. Real healthcare reform would substitute actual cost by provider but Obamacare does not. Showing actal costs on bills would increase the competitive free market forces and overtime reduce costs.

    Kurt Hahn
    A Hospital Board Member from California

    March 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  89. wilheldp

    I can't wait for Obama to shove health care "reform" down our throats. Then, in a few years, that toothbrush will cost $2000.

    Medicare caused this rapid increase in health care costs, but somehow, the Democratic Party has hoodwinked the American public into thinking that the solution to the problem is for MORE people to be covered by government-run health care.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  90. marih

    I imagine the reason the President is having so much trouble reforming the Health Care industry is most of the politicians who are violently opposed to it, probably own stock in the very corporations that are fleecing the American public. What do they care that our granparents who built the country can't afford basic medication for normal conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and glaucoma.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  91. ahoo2u

    The patient is caught between a rock and a hard-place. Most authorizations for treatement include a clause that the patient is responsible if the insurance doesn't cover it. And most reimbursers only cover "usual and customary" charges. Often the hospital/doctor provider can "superbill" the uncovered amount. So a $1000 mistake for a toothbrush is a win-win. If it's never caught and paid for=$999 profit. If it's caught by payor & only customary charges paid, pt has a 20% copay =$200 profit. If the patient challenges and reports it to payor...it gets tied up in months and months of rejection notices. Meanwhile the patient gets billed for uncovered amounts and reported to collection agencies. Too much of a NIGHTMARE to do the right thing!

    THE SOLUTION...patients who find and report the mistake or fraud get like a 20% "finders-fee" just like the professional Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) get an incentive fee. That means a $1000 toothbrush "mistake" could cost the provider a $200 loss. That would stop it REAL QUICK. Meanwhile if you're medicare, try this –> http://www.medicarefraudhotline.com

    March 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  92. Patrick Skinner

    Elizabeth and Kyra,

    I loved Elizabeth's newcast on the high cost of care today – I'm glad someone in the media finally nailed it – it's the high cost silly!!!

    The best example I've come up with is if the price of jet fuel goes way up and the airlines raise prices to cover the increased cost, why is Congress focusing on ‘on time rates, baggage handling, and wait times on the tarmac’? They scream that airline travel is a basic human right and we’ll force the airlines to provide access to all or create a ‘Gov’t run airline to create competition, which they falsly state will lead to lower fares. They seem to totally miss the problem – the high cost of fuel. More air travelers will only bankrupt us quicker.

    I'd LOVE to see a piece on the cost shifting of providers due to the underfunding of government run programs – Medicare, Medicaid, etc. See the recent Dallas News articles: http://www.dallasnews.com/costofcare/ . Jim Landers and Jason Roberson point out comments from 2 National hospital chains that the Federal Gov't pays them 80% of their cost and they bill private pay and insurers 150% of their cost to make up the difference and turn a profit. Every insured family in America would see their premiums decrease by $150/month if Obama would sign a bill announcing providers could not charge anyone more than the gov't pays.

    March 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  93. Kevin

    The only solution is to stop itemized billing. Pay doctors a salary from taxes. And yes, they do need a huge wage cut. Prices for drugs and equiptment needs to be negotiated. We can get offers from trusted overseas drig manufacturers into order to create competition. When faced with real competition, the private sector will behave.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  94. Anthony Ravenell

    And you think you don't need healthcare reform? Why is a patient being charged $1,000 dollars for a toothbursh that probably retails for $2.50 dollars or an Asprin tablet for $140 dollars? Greed! That is what is killing this country and people are too naive to see it. The hospital administrator should be fired along with anyone who thinks this is a reasonable cost for an item such as this.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  95. shelagh wakeford

    Dear Elizabeth: Regarding your comments of this morning, (March 1st), on CNN concerning the outrageous costs of items and unrecognizable doctors that are posted and billed to consumers via their hospital billings.. My answer to your question is: WHY does anyone have to feel the need to check each item for erronious amounts and billings. WHY is it possible to have these amounts changed ONLY if a patient fights for that right. How about getting a CORRECT bill in the first place!

    Thank you for listening. Shelagh Wakeford.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  96. Harold Goltein

    I am a senior citizen who has foot problems as a result of an auto accident- this was compicated by type II diabetes. I viisted an outpatient clinic affiicated with a local hospital and was charged 450.00 for a half hour visit wih a physician assistant. Also on the charge was a fee for a "proceedue"which resulted in a co-pay charge for 250.00. When I notified Blue Cross "personal choice" about these charges, I received little or no cooperation in challenging them. The charges were paid,I refused to pay the co-pay. At no time durng my six o so visits was I ever examined by a physician.
    No proceedure was ever done, although totally unnecessary charges were created to "pad" the bill. Blue Cross was uncooperatie, and a letter to the editor of the local paper revealing these charges was ignoed.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  97. mike-sey

    Would you describe this as through -and-through corruption or extortion. It makes a mockery of the argument thatthe private sector approach is always more efficient and that you can trust your doctors, insurance and health care professionals above the government every time.
    And your solution – contact your hospital, HR department and fight is pretty wimpy and does little to deal with the systemic attitude and milking of the patient/ consumer. Perhaps a call to the FBI and some exemplary jail time would be more effective.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  98. Stephen Jackson

    To: AMFIX
    From: Stephen Jackson
    I would like to know where the money goes, that was paid for the $1,000 tooth brush and other high cost health care items. Please look at a medical bill or hospital budget and report on income, cost and how hospital's are balancing budgets. your report this morning said that the $1,000 tooth brush was waste. If it is waste, it can be fixed. If it is necessary in order to finance medical services please report why.
    I am on Medicare. When I receive a copy of the bill for my medical services, Medicare always pays less than the bill. Medicare payments range from 5% to 75% of the bill. How is the other 95% to 25% portion of the bill payed for? Perhaps it is paid for by charging $1,000 per tooth brush to others. We know that hospitals and other medical services must balance their budgets. They must take in as much money as they spend. Where does the money come from for medical services and what is it spent on?

    Sincerely,

    Stephen Jackson

    March 1, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  99. Arlene

    Gee!!! Maybe this is what the President was talking about when he talked about the WASTE in the Health Care System!!! Maybe we should all ask for itemized bills from the hospitals when we are treated to see what they are billing the insurance company for and then challenge them for correctness. I myself have called my insurance company on several occassions and told them not to pay a bill because it was incorrect.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:07 am |
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